1660 Hans Sloan was born on this day in Co Down in 1660. He was a physician and a collector of natural artefacts. He studied medicine and became a member of The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge.
He bequeathed all his collection to the nation, which was Britain at the time, and so started the foundation of the British Museum in London.
Possibly, the biggest impact Sloan made on Europe, was the introduction of drinking milk chocolate, which he had tried during a trip to Jamaica.
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1871 Writer John Millington Synge was born on this day in Dublin in 1871. His play, Playboy of the Western World caused a riot when it was first performed in Dublin because the audience didn’t like the way the Irish working classes were being portrayed.
However, the play was a success and is still being performed by theatre groups around the world today.
Click here to read some of the best quotes from John Millington Synge
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1918 Spike Milligan was born on this day in India in 1918. Milligan, whose mother was English and father was Irish, was refused a British passport, despite having served in the British army. He instead took Irish citizenship as he was the son of an Irishman.
Milligan was a chaotic comedian, with a zany and unpredictable nature. He was once banned from making any live appearances on Australian television company, ABC. He had been interviewed live on air, and hung around the studio for a while afterwards. The live news bulletin followed, and Milligan repeatedly interjected by shouting out his name whenever the presenter read out the name of the people featured in the news.
He died in 2003, and at his request his headstone epitaph reads: “Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite”, which is Irish and translates as: “I told you I was ill.”
Click here to read some of the best quotes from Spike Milligan
1938 On this day in 1938, hundreds of excited Dubliners packed into the newly opened Regal Cinema to watch the Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray comedy, True Confession. The cinema was built to be the showpiece of Dublin, where the locals could go to see the magic and mystery of the best Hollywood films.
Unfortunately, it failed to consistently attract big enough audiences, and went out of business in 1962, with the owners blaming ‘rising costs and a shortage of good quality films’.
It did, however, have one last hurrah before it was closed down. The cinema was demolished and high storey office blocks were built on the site. The building is now used as the base for the Ireland’s Department of Health.
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1972 Happy birthday to Ed Byrne, born in Dublin on this day in 1972. He is a stand-up comedian and regular guest on numerous comedy panel shows in Britain such as Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You. Byrne is close friends with fellow Irish comedian Dara O’Briain, and they were each other’s best man at both their weddings.
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1977 Happy birthday Eileen Walsh, born on this day in Cork in 1977. She is an actress who starred in the 2002 hit, The Magdalene Sisters, about three girls in Ireland, that are sent to a convent to be cleansed of their sins.
Click here to read about more great Irish actors